Teater Hijau 51- Student Theatre: Jakarta

Theatre in Indonesia is varied in its cultural format and modern theatre is by far the most expressive in content. Student groups across Indonesia have formed theatre groups but the most interesting and award-winning is Teater Hijau 51, first established by students.

When I lived in Yogyakarta I was forever attending plays and other student performances and I was always in awe at their professionalism and creativity. Even the street theatre is fabulous!. Kurniawan Hari interviewed some of the members of Teater Hijau 51:

Teater Hijau 51: From a rented house to a real playhouse

Founded by five students in a rented house in Pondok Labu, South Jakarta, Teater Hijau 51 is today a successful student theater, with a number of award-winning productions under its belt.

During the 1990s, five students of the National Development University (UPN) in Pondok Labu who loved theater, created the institute’s first drama facility in cooperation with university management.

“After further processes, the theater was established on Jan. 22, 1994. We always celebrate the anniversary of the theater on the night of Jan. 21,” Asri, who joined the theater in 2004, said recently.

The theater produces local and foreign plays, the most recent being Nyanyian Angsa (Swan Song) by Anton Chekov and Aduh by Putu Wijaya in September last year.

Theater chairman Yudha said a poster made for Nyanyian Angsa won a prize in a recent competition. In 2005, the theater also won a trophy for best theater group during the National Theater Festival for Students in Yogyakarta.

Group member Parulian, meanwhile, won a prize for best actor during another theater contest in Jakarta the same year.

“We are proud of our achievements. Unfortunately, the (UPN) rector (Budiman Djokosaid) does not give us his full support,” Yudha said.

Yudha said he had asked for a computer for the theater to produce a script for a play but university management never responded.

“After all that we have done, the rector is still unwilling to give us his full support,” he said.

He had also approached the university board to provide a bigger room for theater activities. “Until today, there has been no clear answer (about that),” he said at the group’s headquarters.

The headquarters is a three-by-three square meter room. Dozens of trophies sit on top of an old cupboard and a computer sits on a table.

However, the computer is broken and students borrow a laptop from one of their colleagues to organize things and write scripts.
When I met the students, they were preparing a play titled Jande Dude Muke Gile (Crazy-Loving Widow and Widower) performed by new members of the group.

Jande Dude Muke Gile is a tragic love story about a boy and his girlfriend,” said Ateng, one of the students who prepared the play.

The couple eloped because their parents did not approve of their union — the boy’s single mother and the girl’s widowed father.

The girl’s father then reported the boy to police. At the police station, the girl’s father met the boy’s mother and the pair realized they were old friends.

Love quickly blossomed between the two and the pair forgot all about their children.

When the boy the girl decided to go home, they were surprised find their parents getting married. At the end, the younger couple decide to restrain their love for each other and become brother and sister.

“It is quite an interesting story,” Asri said.

The group rehearses under the guidance of the senior members, normally about three times a week.

Theater exercises include stage composition, or “blocking“, vocal practice and improvisation.

The group has performed at the Jakarta Playhouse, the Taman Ismail Marzuki Fine Arts Center in Jakarta and Societet House in Yogyakarta.

In May, the group will take part in a joint performance involving UPN students in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya.

Kurniawan Hari